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We Should Fast-Track The Establishment Of Continental Free Trade Area – Buhari At AU

President Muhammadu Buhari sitting at the AU Submit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
President Muhammadu Buhari sitting at the AU Submit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

President Muhammadu Buharib has advised the fast-tracking of a single unified market in Africa to increase trade, create more jobs and reduce poverty.
The President who spoke in favour of the Report on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and related issues as presented by President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said: “it is Nigeria’s position that as African leaders and principal architects of our Union, we must now speed up action to conclude the negotiations and establish the CFTA.”
President Buhari reminded his audience that the continent has missed the timeline set by the African Union (AU) in January 2012 to establish the CFTA in 2017, adding that African leaders still had the opportunity to set it up by March 2018.
“In a rapidly changing global economy, with much uncertainty, we believe that the establishment of a CFTA would provide Africa with tremendous opportunity to achieve significant growth driven by intra-African trade.”
According to him, while the stakes in setting up CFTA are very high, the benefits are wide-ranging and significant.
“The primary objective is economic namely, for trade in goods and services on the continent. A single, unified market would lead to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement amongst African Union Member States. If we integrate Africa’s market for trade in goods and services, we will not only double intra-African trade, but also negotiate with other regions or continents on trade matters.”
President Buhari stressed that if the continent increases its trade, it will grow faster, create more jobs and reduce poverty. “Thus, with CFTA, our continent will be more integrated, united and prosperous.
“CFTA will carry significant welfare gains associated with increased production, consumption and revenue. It will generate more economic growth, enhance efficiency and support enterprise and innovation.”
The Nigerian leader advised his African colleagues to also look beyond the economic benefits of the CFTA, stressing that it will be another step in uniting Africa and consolidating the architecture of the African Union.
“The establishment of the CFTA is also the first step for the African Union in the implementation of “Agenda 2063” for the socio-economic transformation of the continent as well as being a building block in the achievement of the goals of the 1991 Abuja Treaty on the African Economic Community.”
President Buhari commended President Issoufou on his role as the AU Champion for the CFTA, also lauded the technical support provided by the AU Commission, with Nigeria serving as the Chair of the Negotiating Forum and Chairperson of the AU Ministers of Trade.
The President said that Nigeria would welcome the idea even as he called on AU Member States to lend their strategic support without delay. [‘myad]